Eggshells and Glory: The Legacy of the Peters Hollow Egg Fight

Published 1:56 pm Friday, March 22, 2024

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The sun peeks over the horizon, casting a warm glow upon the verdant hills of Peters Hollow. In this secluded enclave nestled between Holston Mountain and the Watauga Valley, anticipation crackles in the air. The 201st Annual Peters Hollow Egg Fight, a tradition steeped in history and folklore dating back to the year 1823, is set for March 31.


For generations, families from Rome Hollow had made the pilgrimage to Peters Hollow, drawn by tales of camaraderie, rivalry, and the chance to notch their names into the records of local legends. Underneath the sprawling branches of Uncle Mike Peters’ ancient tree, wagons and horses once parked, signaling the commencement of the festivities. That was a century ago. Now, the scene had shifted to Norman Peters’ home, the custodian of tradition for many years.


In the past, as the clock struck eight, the battlegrounds were set. A patchwork quilt of blankets and picnic baskets adorned the grassy expanse, marking territories for each family. Conversations hummed with excitement, reminiscing over past victories and defeats, while children frolicked, their laughter intermingling with the rustle of leaves in the gentle breeze.


In 1954, the fight had begun at dawn’s first light, a tradition upheld for decades until the rhythms of time dictated a later start. Yet, the essence remained unchanged — the spirit of competition burning bright within each participant. Now the fight begins around 1 p.m. and usually lasts until around 5 p.m. with four separate divisions.


In the archives of history, names like Ray Lowe and Leroy Taylor stood tall, their feats carved into the fabric of Peters Hollow lore. The fateful year of 1959 saw the infamous “Little Red Hen” lay an egg that cracked over countless others before meeting its demise. It was a year of triumph shadowed by tragedy, as Ray Lowe bid farewell to the arena following the untimely demise of his cherished chicken.


Brooks Taylor, armed with “Little Blue Blockbuster,” carved his own legacy in 1965, breaking records with over 800 shattered shells, a testament to skill and strategy honed over years of participation. The arrival of law enforcement in 1965 signaled the growing prominence of the event, drawing crowds in the thousands and transforming Peters Hollow into a bustling hub of activity. State Troopers, local policemen and citizens band radio people controlled the crowds.


In 1966, Howard Peters got 35 dozen eggs from Arkansas. They were supposed to be real hard eggs. But Leroy Taylor won the fight and Ruth Jones came in second.


In 1972, Randy Lacey emerged as the youthful champion, a beacon of hope for the next generation of contenders. With a modest supply of eggs, he defied the odds, solidifying his place in history and inspiring countless others to pursue glory in the hallowed grounds of Peters Hollow. In 1972, according to the Waco Texas newspaper, over 1,500 turned out for the Sunday afternoon event. Lacey was a Carson-Newman student. Ike Taylor was second and Ruth Jones was third. Although some fighters had 30 and 40 dozen eggs, Lacey began with only 12 dozen.


In 1975, Ike Taylor, who had been runner-up for the last three years, won this fight, Roger Andes won the first year Junior division added this year. He was the grandson of Ray Lowe, who has won the fight seven times. Jerry Peters is the all time champ with eight total wins. Peters and his family including in-laws have won the fight over 20 times.


Yet, it was Ike Taylor who claimed victory in 1975, breaking the streak of near-misses to ascend to the pinnacle of egg-fighting expertise. His triumph was a testament to perseverance, a quality revered among the tight-knit community that called Peters Hollow home.


In the year 2023, a new chapter unfolded as Matthew Peters seized victory over his sister, Laura Baird, in a culmination of skill and familial rivalry. The torch had been passed, marking the end of an era and the dawn of a new age for the Peters Hollow Egg Fight.


For decades, Norman Peters’ backyard hosted the annual backyard boxing match, a tradition binding friends and foes alike. Ray Lowe, Ruth Jones, Leroy Taylor, Jerry Peters, Mike Scott, and Hannah Colbaugh all etched their names into its history with back-to-back victories. Yet, the coveted trifecta remained elusive, a prize dangling tantalizingly out of reach. Each year, tensions soared as contenders sparred under the watchful gaze of the crowd. As the sun set on another Easter Sunday, Norman’s backyard echoed with cheers and sighs, leaving the question lingering in the air: Who would be the first to clinch the elusive third consecutive win?